[Podcast] How to Use Curiosity, Improvisation & Intuition to Create More Value with Natalie Nixon

[Podcast] How to Use Curiosity, Improvisation & Intuition to Create More Value with Natalie Nixon

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Natalie Nixon is the author of The Creativity Leap and in this episode, she shares her techniques to helping brands through the power of creativity.

We tuck into some big ideas like how creativity leads to innovation, why a business needs more creative ideas, anthropology, design thinking and how being curious and how asking more of the “why”, “what if” and “how” questions create more value for organisations.

sponsored message

Adobe Creative Cloud Discount

Take the leap with us and Natalie Nixon in this value-packed episode.

Listen Here

Love the show? Please review us on Apple or Stitcher.


Play Now

Watch on Youtube

Show Notes


sponsored message

Learn Brand Strategy

Best Brand Strategy Course Online

Brand Master Secrets helps you become a brand strategist and earn specialist fees. And in my opinion, this is the most comprehensive brand strategy course on the market.

The course gave me all the techniques and processes and more importantly… all the systems and tools I needed to build brand strategies for my clients.

This is the consolidated “fast-track” version to becoming a brand strategist.

I wholeheartedly endorse this course for any designer who wants to become a brand strategist and earn specialist fees.

sponsored message

Check out the 15-minute video about the course, which lays out exactly what you get in the Brand Master Secrets.

Transcript (Auto Generated)

Hello, and welcome to JUST Branding, the only podcast dedicated to helping designers and entrepreneurs grow brands. Here are your hosts, Jacob Cass and Matt Davies.

Hello, everybody, and welcome to this newest episode of JUST Branding. This time, we have the wonderful Natalie Nixon with us. Natalie is a creativity strategist and she’s the president of Figure 8 Thinking LLC in Philadelphia, USA.

She’s a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce, and she’s a prolific writer, having written for such magazines as Ink Magazine, Future Rhythmic, and recently she’s launched a fantastic new book, The Creativity Leap. Welcome, Natalie, to our podcast. Super excited to have you here.

Good to be here.

So, Natalie, we’re so excited to have you on, but one of the things that you may have heard that we do a lot with our guests as soon as we get them on is to really help them sort of give us a lens through which to look at some of the subjects that we’re going to sort of dig into with you. One of those subjects obviously is going to be creativity, particularly around your book and curiosity. So perhaps one good way we could start is to ask you, how would you define creativity and curiosity and what would that mean in a business context?

Sure. So I’ve spent quite a bit of time of the past few years really trying to come up with a simple and accessible way to explain creativity, to kind of democratize it. And I think about creativity as our ability to toggle between wonder and rigor to solve problems and also produce novel value at scale.

And wonder is about awe and audacity and asking big blue sky, what if questions? It’s also about pausing. Rigor is about time on task.

It’s about discipline, incessant practice. It’s often very solitary. It’s not particularly sexy.

And it is an equally essential aspect of creativity. The reason why it’s super important for us to be thinking about creativity in a business context is that most businesses that I work with are trying to build cultures of innovation. But what I often find is that they throw around the word innovation quite a bit and are not necessarily speaking the same language.

We don’t have really a good lingua franca for how we think about innovation. And by the way, I define innovation as invention converted into value. And that might be social value, financial value, cultural value.

But at the end of the day, creativity is that conversion factor. It’s creativity that converts an invention, an idea into a scalable idea. But we have to actually start with creativity before we even get about the business of innovation, because creativity is the engine for innovation.

It’s how we get to interesting and cool inventions that we can eventually scale.

That is awesome. I mean, what a definition, folks. Jacob, I saw your eyebrows rise.

What did you think of that?

That’s incredible. I was wanting to know how the name, The Creativity Leap, how you just got all of that down into one title. So where did The Creativity Leap come from?

Well, when I was sitting down with my editors at Barrett Kohler to think about the title, one way we kept framing the role and importance of creativity in this current time was in terms of a gap. You know, there’s sometimes I think about the lack of creativity being applied in business situations in our organizations and even in our daily lives. But if we think about things only in terms of a gap, that’s a bit of a negative way to look at it, right?

It’s a chasm. It’s a lack of. And so we decide to flip that.

And after some brainstorming came with the word leap. And on page one of The Creativity Leap, I talk about how, oh, I asked the question, what is a leap? What does it take to leap?

And in order to leap, number one, you have to have identified some barrier. There’s something in the way, there’s some impediment. You need vision in order to identify that barrier.

sponsored message

Secondly, you can’t just walk around the barrier. You’ve got to make a running start and scale it with this leap. The third aspect, of course, is that leaping requires this kinesthetic energy.

It requires energy and movement. And in our work, that might be equated to build, test, learn. You make in order to learn and to discover.

And finally, it’s impossible to leap backwards. We can only leap forward. And so it’s that forward motion that’s super important, too.

So there’s a lot in that word leap. I think it’s a very positive, action-filled image and visual that comes to people. And if I haven’t said already, the other piece of the way I’m thinking about creativity is that it’s been siloed and ghettoized in the arts and in design.

And so we have people muttering, oh, I’m not a creative type, or the creatives will handle it, right? And that’s not fair to artists. It’s not beneficial to our society at large.

So it’s my view that to be human is to be hardwired to be creative.

I love that metaphor with the leap and the energy and the vision and the run in. It all just works so well. It kind of reminds me of Mighty New Mind’s brand gap, but you kind of just flip that and you kind of bridge in that gap.

It’s just a different way to bridge that gap, but through creativity. So yeah, very clever. So I’d love to talk about that vision and how you actually come to that vision, because I guess there’s a process of doing that.

How do you actually get to that point?

Well, you know, the subtitle of the book is Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation and Intuition at Work. And those three areas are part of what I call the three I’s. There’s a three I creativity model that’s part of the way I think about and help people and organizations to deploy creativity, build cultures of creativity.

So it wasn’t enough in my view to just say, okay, guys, if you want to be more creative, toggle between wonder and rigor to solve problems. I also need to provide some means to that and how do you do that? And so one of the ways we do that is by being more curious through inquiry, by asking new and different questions.

sponsored message

And I’m a big fan of the work of Warren Berger, who wrote A More Beautiful Question. And in that book, Warren Berger talks about how asking questions is actually a way of thinking. You know, I spent a good part, like 20 plus years of my career in education.

I was a professor for 16 years. And so I know that in a lot of our educational learning environments, we tend to be solutions oriented, not process oriented. Students are a bit shy about asking questions for fear that we found out that they don’t know the answer to something.

When actual actuality is when we ask new and different questions, that’s the beginning of discovery and experimentation. So the curiosity piece is one way that we begin to build that creative muscle, asking new and different questions. One good way to do that is by surrounding yourself with people who think differently from you, from different backgrounds from you, who look at the same problem, but ask a different question.

Think of it from a different angle. Improvisation is the second I, and improvisation is not really about being able to do a good jazz solo, a musical instrument. It’s not about being really good at comedic improv.

Being improvisational is about being adaptive. It’s about the build. It’s about saying, yes, instead of, yeah, well, we tried that two years ago or eight years ago and it didn’t work.

So being having that adaptive mindset, as Carol Dweck calls it, the growth mindset is really all incorporated in being improvisational. And then intuition. Intuition is a type of pattern recognition.

We all have in our bodies what I call our own internal antenna. There’s something called the vagus nerve and it extends from the cranium down through the heart into the gut. And it’s the only nerve that extends that way.

So there’s a reason why we’re saying my heart is telling me or my gut is telling me we literally have this internal wiring. And so I interviewed over 50 people for The Creativity Leap and to a successful leader, they all credit intuition, listening to their intuition to make decisions. So those are three ways that we can start to really exercise creativity.

Yeah, Natalie, I think it’s quite interesting. You mentioned that, you know, students sometimes find it difficult to ask questions. In my experience in business, you know, particularly leadership teams, perhaps, you know, I mean, you can’t speak, wild generalization coming up here.

But I do find the average leader is, you know, in front of their peers, at least, you know, finds it difficult to ask simple questions in similar ways to you were saying, the students, because they don’t want to be perceived as not knowing. So why do you think that is? Why have we got ourselves in this situation as students or even in the top of our game, you know, in leadership teams, where questions are taboo?

You know, where’s that come from, do you think?

Well, when we ask questions, there’s a certain level of vulnerability that has to be allowed, be accepted, that emerges. And if the model of leadership has only been certainty and come up with the solution, then it is a bit of a mind trip to then say, oh, no, actually, you will be a great leader if you also lead with questions that are self-reflective and kind of push the limits on the ways we’ve always done things in our companies. So going back to Warren Berger, he was really interested in this question of, well, what makes the innovative companies so innovative?

And he went around to visit a whole bunch of them, kind of your usual suspects, and what he learned is that they have inquiry-based leadership. Their leaders are not afraid to pose, you know, why questions, what if questions, how questions. And so the last question is like, you know, why have we never hired anyone under age 40?

Why? Why do we only hire people from those sorts of schools? Why?

You know, why have we never tried marketing our products and services to the Southern Hemisphere? And then they ask bigger, more expensive, what if questions, what if we started selling to Brazil? What if we hired people who have a high school diploma and just a wealth of learned experience?

And then they ask how they start to converge and starts to ask how do we begin to implement this? So it really requires a mindset shift, which leads to shifts in behaviors, which leads to culture change. I actually have that on my website, but I’m talking about the way I approach consulting.

I often have been joking that I need to create a t-shirt that says it’s culture silly, because everything at the end of the day ends up being about culture. But changes in culture start with shifts in mindset. So if we try to shift towards a leadership model that embraces inquiry and questions, that actually also allows our teams to be a bit more vulnerable and to share questions that will only lead to new exploration.

Can I ask how you actually teach that? Because I know you have that background and you came up with the MBA program at Philly, right? How do you actually teach this sort of leadership?

Well, it can start with really simple exercises. I just started, I just launched an online group coaching course. It’s a companion piece to The Creativity Leap.

It’s called Your Creativity Leap. And we actually, we’re working on an exercise during this week where they are doing a brainstorming exercise of just trying to do a mind dump of all sorts of why questions. The first stage was to kind of do a documentation of their life to date.

And it’s a little scary. It’s a little like, where do I start? And there’s a lot of the conversation we had was about, don’t judge yourself, right?

It’s more about just seeing what comes out. And then the next stages we’ll work on are asking or tweaking from the why to what if and how sorts of questions. But it’s practice.

It’s learned behavior. It also, whenever you are tempted to start to give an answer, see if you can flip it into a question. See if you can try to start to examine an aspect of the thing or experience or service you’re looking at from a different angle.

Can we go a little bit deeper in terms of, I guess, not just teaching how to do this, but if you’re in a real world situation, let’s say in a business environment, how do you actually get people that have these behaviors, they’re so ingrained in them, to actually flip that and to open up, to be more vulnerable. How does that happen?

Well, unfortunately, a lot of the times, the opportunities for vulnerability come in catastrophic moments. And it sometimes needs to be in the reactionary times when stuff has really hit the fan and people have to really, they’re forced to shift and move. So it’s better if, as I said, that there can be leadership that models this behavior.

But you’ve got to start to hire for creativity. And that means the interview process has to look a little differently. Maybe there’s some sort of cool hunting exercise that you give people to do.

It gives you an insight into how they’re thinking about the world around them. You then need to cultivate it and incentivize it. People spend, we value what we measure.

We value what we spend time on. So if you incentivize people to be more creative by, through lateral thinking, by asking new and scary questions about the organization, by prototyping different things, if you incentivize them through pay, through time, through more people resources, people will start to respond. If you incentivize them by saying, you’re going to be evaluated in the next quarter based on however the organization is defining creativity based on the ways that you do those things.

So those are some of the ways companies can actually act out on this work.

Yeah, so you’re changing it from the inside out, more or less versus going into a room and saying, this is how we’re doing things. It’s really from the beginning, right?

Yeah, well, I was just talking to a woman who led, she’s incredible experience at FedEx, Redbox on supply chain management. And she, you know, her point of view, which is so on point, she emphasizes how much, how often leaders miss asking the people on the ground, the people who are closest to the folks who are buying your stuff, asking them questions, asking them to pose questions. And she’s fervent about that.

And that’s really where it has to start. It’s about emergent leadership. It’s not just about top-down leadership.

It’s about encouraging the generation, generative thinking of question asking from the folks who are on the margins, the folks who are maybe not a senior. And that’s a scary ask if you haven’t been modeling it, right? People do have a natural fear.

Will I be fired if I mess up? How are you as maybe the top of the helm leader really demonstrating your own vulnerability? So that’s why it’s inside out work in that manner.

Yeah, I think it’s really interesting because one of the things that we sometimes talk about is from a brand perspective is obviously brands need to remain relevant. And so brands need leaders who are interested in remaining relevant for customers. But at the same time, you can’t, you’ve got to have an organizational structure that is willing to listen, to take in ideas, to pose ideas, to kind of have that exchange of thought so that those creative ideas can be born.

You’ve got to kind of, as leaders, I think, you’ve got to kind of design systems that encourages new thinking. And I often say, I think I’ve said it before, so forgive me, Jacob, or anyone else who’s listening, but Natalie, you probably haven’t heard me say this, so I’ll say it anyway. But my view is that the number one enemy of creativity is fear.

And it’s kind of like some of the things that you’ve been talking about here. And if you have a culture which doesn’t encourage new ideas and doesn’t allow people to potentially fail, you can very quickly fall into this kind of realm of fear if anyone comes up with a new idea that’s not very good. So then no one does come up with any new ideas because they’re fearful.

What are your thoughts on fear in business and in creativity? What are your thoughts on what I’ve just said?

Well, I think that’s super important because you’re bringing up the human element. I’ve jokingly said that we have got to stop showing up to work in drag. You know, we get Natalie’s greatest hits, best of, and you don’t really understand that in my free time, I love to study social ballroom dance and the tango and salsa and the foxtrot.

And if you invite people, if you’re more curious about who they are as humans and you invite people to show up as their true human selves, you actually get higher productivity because when people feel seen, when people feel heard, then they are going to show very differently to the work. And I liked how, you know, you position the enemy of creativity sphere. Another way I think about, you know, a contrast to creativity, I learned this from, I’m a big fan of the psychologist, the psychotherapist, Esther Perel.

And she, I listened to one of her podcasts, and she, in one of her brilliant moments of just giving feedback to clients, she talked about how being reactionary is the opposite of being creative. And it’s so true. When you’re only reacting, reacting, reacting, you’re churning.

That’s not a creative mode. The creative mode is when you don’t react, but you are producing, you’re juxtaposing elements that have never before been put together. And you truly can be in the moment, which requires bravery.

It requires a very different way of putting yourself out there. The other piece that’s important that requires bravery is if you really start to incorporate a prototyping mindset that really does begin to value mistakes and failure, you oxygenate your ideas. You give them air and light.

You allow other people to opine on them without taking it personally and being willing to adapt the idea, tweak it, develop it, chuck it out the window, start all over again.

Yeah, I mean, design thinking, I know is something that you are a massive advocate of. Talk us through how you approach sort of design thinking. Let’s just weave that into the, why not?

Why not, Jacob? Hey, you know, it’s part of creativity, right? Talk about how do you frame that?

You know, particularly if you’re talking in a business context, you know, design thinking historically has come from maybe a software background. How do you then take it from that sort of perhaps rather nerdy image that it might have into sort of business itself and into this context of creativity?

I look at design thinking as a problem-solving process. It’s 50% ethnography and qualitative research. And the other 50% is the application of design tools, like visualizing data, like prototyping.

So you do this mashup of the two and we come up with design thinking. And I think one of the biggest offerings and insights in design thinking is this notion that you can design not only tangible products and objects in fashion and product design, industrial design, et cetera, but you can design services and experiences and processes. The challenge in a lot of organizations is that sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes when design thinking gets incorporated, it gets stuck at only being one more silo and it becomes, it gets in danger of being the folks who get to play with post-it notes all day.

So if you don’t have a grander strategic mode and way to integrate design thinking into the business mission, the business value proposition, then that’s the danger. Another danger, frankly, of design thinking is something that we have found also in my, another tool and sector background I use, which is anthropology, which is that, and I think this is actually a danger for all of design. Design has to be very careful and design thinking has to be very careful about not only being in this mode of designing for, right?

But how do you really ensure that there’s co-creation happening, that there’s a feedback loop, that there’s not kind of this superiority attitude of we know what the user needs, we know what’s best for the people who we’ve just, you know, gone into their situation, their homes, their lives, and then we go back out. So that’s an important feedback loop to really ensure. And that’s also a danger in anthropology.

You know, anthropology has deep colonialist roots, which are highly problematic. The tools abstracted can be really useful as long as we’re mindful of those things.

Can we talk about some of those tools? I’d love to dive a little bit deeper into anthropology.

Yes, in college, I studied anthropology and Africana studies. And I actually posted on social media this summer that it wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized that studying Africana studies, so Africana studies is this multidisciplinary major where you learn about people of African descent in the diaspora through the lens of sociology, literature, economics, political science. And it wasn’t until this summer that I realized that that was actually my first foray into systems thinking and systems design because it was really equipping me with a way of understanding networks and nodes and this idea that if one thing in the system shifts, it’s gonna have a cascading effect on everything else.

So that was a real value of studying Africana studies. Anthropology, cultural anthropology equipped me with asking questions very differently. And I love cultural anthropology because it helps me to be self-reflexive on my own culture and society.

And it helps, it gives me a way in to understand what I call the worm’s eye view of society. I think sociology and poli sci, economics, give us the bird’s eye view. They give us that 30,000 foot level view, which is important.

We see patterns from that view. We see the what, but we don’t understand why. And so if you dive down a little more deep, more closer on the ground to the worm’s eye view, you begin to understand what’s moving.

Because anthropology uses interviews, anthropology uses observations. Sometimes it’s called participant observation. It uses contextual inquiry.

So there’s all these different ways in to understand. And also anthropology is full of, why do I think about the way I think? It can be super meta-cautious, but it can go on a bit ad nauseum, but at least it’s asking self-critical questions.

So how do you bring that into your work? I mean, I assume you consult, you go into businesses and you help them with their creativity, for example. How do you bring some of that thinking?

Do you create frameworks around it and help them to see it? Or obviously as a consultant, you see stuff, but often, as you’ve talked about, asking the right questions, helping others to see things for themselves seems to be the challenge. So how do you bring that through into your work?

Oh yeah, I am a framework nerd.

I’m always creating frameworks. So one way that I bring it in in my consultancy work as a strategist is just to help my clients couple all the quantitative data that they have with the deeper data that comes from ethnographic studies and qualitative research that I can bring to the fore, that they might frankly think there’s not enough time for. And it’s a more time-intensive process, but it adds so much value to kind of putting meat on the bones.

So for example, of really going beyond the focus group, because even the focus group has its flaws because it can lead to sheep herd mentality, right? And so you still have to get out of the building, metaphorically speaking, now during quarantine, and understand what makes people tick, what are their drivers, what motivates them. So that’s invaluable because that leads to those unexpected, we might call them black swans that were just kind of embedded in all the noise of the data, but there’s a story that you’re told that leads to down the line to understand things from a different perspective, which really ultimately makes the business value proposition much more distinctive.

Would you mind sharing an example of like a real world case study or like example that you’ve gone in and helped someone uncover these sorts of things?

Sure, so I’ve done work with a major global cable telecom company and one of the needs was to really understand how they could differentiate in terms of an accelerator they had started. So as you’re probably aware, a lot of the major companies struggle sometimes with how do we remain scrappy and make sure we innovate? And they do that a lot of time by acquiring scrappy or startups.

So it’s very in vogue now to have kind of accelerators embedded in the companies and have a place for startups to really plug and play and build their businesses at scale. So in this particular project, we were asked to help them identify how do we ensure that this particular accelerator is connecting in a meaningful way to executives at the company, that it’s a meaningful work experience for the startups who will be there, that it’s also connected to the city, there’s a sense of place and the design of the work experience. So that was an example of something where we were doing interviews with all sorts of stakeholders to ensure that they were setting up a cultural environment that would really maintain the grittiness that startups have, but also allow them to take advantage of the expertise and scale, frankly, that corporations have.

It was also really important to integrate trend research as well. Trends are really important, as Valerie Jacobs likes to say, that trends are data from the future. Foresight work is less about predicting a future, but it’s everything about being super observant of the present.

That’s an example of some of the ways I’ve gone in in figure eight thinking that help companies do that work.

It’s just so fascinating. I love listening to you speak just this whole way through. It’s just been fascinating.

Thank you.

One of the things I was going to ask you, I don’t know what your thoughts are on this. You mentioned you transcend the, just going back to that point about the focus group, because you can get sheep and herd mentality, if you can call it that. People listen to what other people in the session are saying, and that influences actually how they then give feedback.

One of the things I’m exploring at the moment is, it’s a challenge for brands because brands are trying to appeal to even this concept of a target market, which is just a construct that a leadership or a marketing team have basically created. Perhaps it’s based on research, perhaps it’s based on where they want to go, and there’s a bit of a foresight in there, but ultimately it’s a construct. Now, when you dig into that, obviously everybody’s an individual.

In terms of human nature and anthropology, what are your thoughts on the difference between thinking about humans as individuals, but then also grouping us? How do you think that that starts to work in terms of trends and in terms of businesses and brands orientating their services and products towards us?

Well, I think that that’s where the application of technology can be really interesting to start to strike things and really to… I am not an expert. I have no know-how in visualization of data, but I love visualizing data as a tool because it’s a very different dynamic aid in which we can make our way in to understand the complexity of an air quotes targeted group.

At least we’ve moved away from only focusing on demographics to also incorporating psychographics, but it’s also moving away from developing personas which can kind of be a little stifling and narrow to really think about groups of people in terms of behaviors, which might mean that I am an African-American middle-aged woman from the Northeastern part of the United States who loves social ballroom dancing and has a PhD and is a stepmother and loves walks in nature, and I’m married, and all those other dimensions of me. I might have more in common with a 19-year-old guy in Seoul, South Korea, who has, I don’t know, similar interests and values, et cetera. So starting to look at things, trying to be some behaviors is a way into that, to really appreciate the complexity and not to homogenize everything, which is that the more narrow and specific we are in our targeting, the more good we do, the more we end up really nailing it.

And it also becomes much more interesting to other people.

Yeah. And the more broad we are, actually the more challenging it is and the more meaningless we can actually become. So I absolutely agree with that.

And I think this concept of homogenizing, I think we’re doing it loads. It’s a thing that we’re trained to do almost, from university and all the constructs. It’s just something that I thought I’d ask you about, because it’s such an interesting thing.

It’s interesting how you talk about psychographics. Seth Goding and Marty Numai, who we’ve already mentioned, talk a lot about people buying in tribes, but rather than geographical tribes, as perhaps thousands of years ago, we might have kind of operated, it’s now in belief systems that we have from our culture. And so brands, I think you’re right, we are shifting from targeting people who live in Florida, who are earning this amount in drive, this type of car, to now more of a global approach, where we’re looking for people who believe in, a sustainable future or whatever it might be.

So, yeah. And I think that, but even in that, my question is, is, but are we getting, again, are we grouping people too much? And how far do we group them and how not far do we group them?

This is the challenge. And I don’t know if you’ve got any thoughts on how far business is going to go with that.

The good thing, scary thing is that businesses have access to a lot of data in terms of the ways that we as individuals are self-grouping and we are creating identification vectors in multiple levels. And so, you know, I don’t know if you guys have watched the documentary, The Social Dilemma.

I was just thinking that. I was like, this is exactly what we’re talking about, big data and how you can just like go in and find that exact right person. Yeah.

Because of big data and what we have access to, we’re able to do it. But there’s a cultural context. This is where the anthropology comes in.

There’s a cultural context to choices and to behaviors and to even on the front end, to how the algorithm is designed, which because if you don’t have cultural sensitivity or cultural curiosity and understand the nuances within a demographic or even a psychodemographic, you’re going to miss a whole set of insights because of assumptions that are built in. Because you don’t ask certain questions. At the end of the day, a human being is still going to have to be on one end of the algorithm going full circle to the top of our conversation who’s curious, who knows how to ask a different question, who has a team built on cognitive and ethnic diversity so that they can go into a scenario asking a different range of questions.

They don’t end up being burned by their assumptions.

The more I hear you speak, the more I understand why you named your business Figure 8 Thinking. Just, it’s that loop, right?

It is, yeah, I called it Figure 8 Thinking because to build on ideas, you have to go out and then back in and revisit and go out and revisit. And also it’s a nod to kinesthetic learning, you know? I know how to ice skate, but I’ve never been a figure skater, but I love this idea of movement, moving and making in order to learn.

So that’s what is all involved in the name of my company.

And you know, it’s interesting to hear you like Foxtrot. I’d love to see you, you know, maybe on another podcast, you know, you could talk to us about that because I’ve got two left feet.

I post videos of myself poorly sassying and foxtrotting and tangling and hip hop. I take hip hop dance classes too. And no shame to my game.

I’m fine with sharing.

Jacob, are you much of a dancer, buddy?

Definitely not. I’m just glad the name JUST Dance has taken already.

Oh, that’s such a shame. I’d love to see some.

Well, I think I have three left feet.

Of you, yeah. Three left feet, wow. Well, listen, I know, you know, time is precious and we’ve been, we’ve, you know, we’ve danced around a lot here.

I was just wondering if we could start to draw some of the threads together, you know, towards the end of this podcast. I was just wondering if you had any sort of top tips or methodologies that you thought, you know, our listeners, you know, particularly entrepreneurs might find helpful in relation to creativity and being curious and kind of using some of that in their work. What sort of tips would you give?

Perhaps someone just starting out in regards, you know, in relation to some of those things.

Yeah, well, you did mention that a lot of the folks who are in your audience are designers, maybe even artists, as well as entrepreneurs and tech and other sectors. And I do hope that the way I think about creativity and The Creativity Leap is a way for folks who are designers to really have a confidence of having a seat at the table to… Because there is a business ROI of creativity.

Before I get into the tips, actually, on my website, I have a PDF that people could have access to where I describe, actually, I haven’t put that one up, but the business ROI of creativity, I was talking about the four creativity leaps we have to make, that’s available. But the business ROI of creativity is just my belief that there’s a solid, bold line between creativity and business impact. It’s not a fuzzy dotted line.

For example, when we are more creative, we have to have much more inventive thinking. And when we have more inventive thinking, that leads to new business models, which uncovers different strategic partnerships, which then leads to new revenue streams. That’s a business impact, just as an example.

But as terms of tips and tactics, one thing that everyone can start to do is to become a clumsy student of something. And I’ll just reference what I’m a clumsy student of. I studied dance since I was four years old.

I studied modern Horton Technique, and I’m in very different shape now than I used to be. So I can’t very easily do that style of dance at the level I used to. So social ballroom dance for me is a way into having fun, something I really enjoy, and I’m not good at it.

So I’m constantly needed to ask new and different questions of my teacher. I’m asking questions of fellow students. I’m constantly improvising and needing to be adaptive in the way I’m understanding a concept and incorporating it, and then reframing it and then building on it.

I’d be super intuitive, especially in a dance like tango, salsa, even foxtrot, to really be at one with my dance partner and to be really still sometimes listen internally. So what happens is I am exercising all these neural synapses in my brain at play. And then when I go back to the work at hand, I have exercised and ignited that circuitry in my brain so that it helps me to bring much better insight to my work.

For teams and company, one more example, to practice creativity, in my book, I end each chapter with a tip for an individual and a tip for an organization to be more creative, to make a creativity leap. And one of the things I recommend is that you incentivize members of your team to go to attend a conference in a totally different sector. So if you work in transportation, attend a conference in fashion.

If you work in education, attend a conference in financial services or environmentalism. And what begins to happen is a bit of lateral thinking. You begin to learn, oh, they have a similar problem or challenge in their business, but they approach it X way.

That’s interesting. How could we do that? So give people the time and money to do that and then require that they share out.

So now during quarantine, the way you can do that is there’s tons of webinars that are available to people. So attend a webinar in a completely different sector. So those are two tips and there’s tons more in my book.

That is awesome. I absolutely love that. You know, go to a different sector and go to a conference.

And I think the key there was that little bit you just tagged on, make sure you get folks to share it, right? Because then they’re going looking like thinking, I’ve got to present something back to my team. Like everyone knows I’m going to this conference that the company’s paid money for.

And on condition of that, I had to do a show and tell next Thursday. So I’ve got my notepad ready. And so they’re in that listening mode.

They’re looking, they’re in their creativity. They’re in the curious zone as they expect, which then can lead to that creativity later down the line. Love it.

Great tips. Thanks so much. And thanks for sharing all those mind boggling things.

Jacob, did you have anything else just before we wind up for them?

No, where can we find you Natalie?

Thanks for asking. Just go to figure8thinking.com. That’s F-I-G-U-R-E, the number 8, thinking.com.

And actually people can download a free sample chapter if they so choose, just send them the homepage. There’ll be a banner at the top and I’d love people to stay in touch, love to hear from people. I share a lot of resources on my website as well as on my YouTube channel.

Just Google Natalie Nixon or figure8thinking.com.

Awesome, and we’ll drop some of those in our show notes. So please folks do click on those and check out Natalie. And also if you get time, Jacob and I, we absolutely love any reviews as long as they’re positive.

So make sure they’re positive, but we love positive reviews of the podcast. If you found anything particularly interesting, please do share, like, tweet about it from today’s podcast. Thank you for joining us.

Natalie, a big thank you to you because I know your time is really precious. So we appreciate you taking some time out to speak to us today. Thank you, Justin.

Thank you.

Share This Post: